Nothing has a bigger impact on the long-term success or failure of your ERP than the quality of the implementation process. When done well, you’re likely to experience a greater ROI in a lot less time. When done poorly, you could waste a lot of time and money without ever seeing any advantages.
With so much riding on the ERP implementation, it’s important to make every effort to optimize the process. That means going into the implementation with a clear understanding of what you need to do, when, and why. Use the following steps and strategies to create an effective plan for ERP implementation:
1. Assemble a Team – It takes a diverse team of experts and stakeholders to ensure you ERP implementation meets all your requirements. Figure out who needs to be involved, enlist their help, and create a schedule for meetings and updates.
2. Evaluate Your Hardware – If you need to supplement your IT infrastructure in order to implement your ERP on site, figure out what you will need, how much it will cost, and how you will go about installing it. Also consider that with cloud ERP your hardware requirements are almost non-existent.
3. Create Test Scripts – You will need to test every aspect of your ERP before it goes live. Come up with testing scenarios that ensure you run every possible procedure through every possible motion. It is always better to prolong testing rather that going live with a buggy application.
4. Plan Data Transfer – This is one of the hardest parts of the ERP implementation process. Figure out exactly what data needs to transfer, where it is located, what the transfer itself will require, and how you will test that transfer has been complete. Remember that you absolutely cannot afford to leave any data behind.
5. Design a Resolution Protocol – The implementation process is all about finding issues and fixing them faster. Figure out who will be responsible for resolving errors, what timelines and workflows they will follow, and how they will prioritize projects.
6. Contour the Configuration – Depending on the ERP you choose to implement, you can customize its features, functions, and interfaces to your existing workflows and organizational structure. Work with the vendor to determine what is possible and how you can configure you ERP without compromising it.
7. Enlist a Testing Team – Throughout the implementation you will want both experts and end users to be constantly testing the system. Put together a team you can rely on, and come up with a systematic way for them to report issues and errors.
8. Develop Timelines – Every part of the ERP implementation process should proceed according to schedules and timelines. That makes it much easier to track your progress and adjust accordingly. Be sure to also determine benchmarks defining success or failure. It is unrealistic to expect any implementation to proceed perfectly. But that does not mean you should ignore the scope or scale of mistakes and setbacks.
9. Invest in Training – Training end users to embrace and employ ERP as completely as possible is no small task. Figure out what training resources you will need, how much time and money you can dedicate to the process, and how you will track understanding and engagement.
This is just an outline of what your ERP implementation plan will include. The final document will likely be dozens of pages long, but rest assured that each one of those pages will provide necessary guidance or clarification along with way. If you want to approach implementation as carefully, confidently, and completely as you possibly can, make sure to reach out to the right vendor. The best ones are eager and able to help you perfect every step of the process before, during, and after your implementation.